50 Years of M*A*S*H: “To Market, To Market”


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of M*A*S*H, I’m taking a weekly look back at what episode of M*A*S*H aired five decades ago on CBS.

Episode Title: “To Market, To Market”
Airdate: Sunday, September 24th, 1972
Written By: Burt Styler
Directed By: Michael O’Herlihy
Nielsen Rank: Unknown

The second episode of M*A*S*H aired 50 years ago today. “To Market, To Market” aired for the first time on Sunday, September 24th, 1972 on CBS. Father Mulcahy doesn’t appear in this episode; Klinger has yet to be introduced.

Here’s the capsule summary from my Episode Spotlight for the episode:

When the Army won’t do anything about black marketeers stealing the 4077th’s much-needed hydrocortisone, Hawkeye and Trapper take matters into their own hands.

“To Market, To Market” was one of 20 episodes included in The Hallmark Channel’s “M*A*S*H Bash 2007,” hosted by Wayne Rogers. The 12-hour marathon aired Monday, January 1st, 2007.

As I mention in my Episode Spotlight review, Larry Gelbart felt the background music in this episode was too too silly so he made sure it was toned down in future episodes. Maybe I should take a closer look at the music in “To Market, To Market” and compile a Music Breakdown for the episode.

Check back next week for the next installment of 50 Years of M*A*S*H.

3 Replies to “50 Years of M*A*S*H: “To Market, To Market””

  1. I am a total MASH junkie. If it’s on I’ll find it. I doesn’t matter if I’ve seen it hundred times before, I sit down and not only do I hang off of every word, sometimes I word the dialog along with the cast. Speaking of the cast, I have never felt as if I knew each one of them as close friends. Admittedly the cast of the first three seasons is my favorite, but as it changed over the year I grew to like the replacements. Every one knows MASH is a comedy, we can say it’s one of the all-time best written comedys ever. But there is a flip side. The one that shows the horrors of war, with no shortage of pain thats so very real. The episode that Henry Blake leaves the show makes me well up every time I see it. I’ve been known to lift various lines from the show to use in my day to day. That never happens with any other show I watch. If you aren’t a MASH junkie I understand, it’s not for everybody. But once you get hooked you’ll understand how it feels.

    1. Hello Bill,
      As you’ve admitted you are a huge fan, and (which’ll help for my curiosity & concern) also familiar with the entirety of ‘MASH’ both overall as a series & individually on an episode by episode basis. Hopefully, and I’m sorry if I’m prying, you are also old enough to have seen the episodes of this series live because I havd always wanted to ask and seek answers to the following questions. As for me, I’m now 46, so I was just being born around it’s fourth season & clearly far to young to really catch any of it. However, while growing up I spent most of my life, starting from about the early 80’s sitting in front of a TV watching most specifically sitcoms (both those airing at the time like Family Ties, The Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, Mr. Belvedere, etc. along with often catching Nick at Nite black & white shows like Mr Ed, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Father Knows Best, Leave it To Beaver, My Three Sons, Patty Duke, etc. ) & that has continued for most of my life due to (both) personal enjoyment & professional curiosity/need to explore the genre, as I hold a B.A. & M.F.A in English – Creative Writing (secondary major) while also having attaining a B.A. & M.A. in Critical Theory of Film, TV & Literature (primary major) along with recently completing the coursework credit required towards a PhD in Critical Theory of Film, TV & Literature (I have “just” the dissertation left to do). Now, I apologize again, for the lengthy intro, but I feel the need for pre-qualifying my background before asking my questions so you can recognize that I’m not looking at this in flippant manner.
      Having said all that, I’ve now watched on network TV, basic cable or in some cases binge watched on video or streaming nearly every episode of virtually every sit-com that’s been aired in the U.S. from the first shows of the genre (I Love Lucy, Honeymooners, The Dick Van Dyke Show) to the ratings giants (All in the Family, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, The Office, etc) to the Fox upstarts (The Simpsons, Married with Children, The Tracey Ullman Show, Open House, Herman’s Head, etc) to the comedy- variety shows (Laugh-In, Carol Burnett Show, Saturday Night Live) to the one season flops that are generally unknown or were so long ago forgotten there’s very few people to even talk to them about (I won’t waste the space with examples). Bottom line, and here’s where you come in..I don’t get MASH.
      It just doesn’t seem to fit, at least to me and especially not as a comedy. Knowing well of it since day one due to it’s popularity and name and then ever moreso hearing it being referenced throughout my college courses which studied TV, as MASH is often noted for it’s series finale garnering the largest ever audience share (Neilson) in history for all sit-coms, if not all shows (barring the moon landing & other national events) which MASH should continue holding forever per the addition of cable TV options (occuring soon after) and now (especially) with streaming it’s nearly impossible to have 1 of every 3 (roughly) viewers
      watching the same thing!
      I think what baffles me the most is that while I find a few of the regular and guest characters amusing (certainly Major Frank Burns, Col. Flagg) and there are a number of entertaining &/or laughable moments, the series as a whole seems more drama to me than comedy, and whist I’ll admit I seem to find the first season to be more written around the concept of bringing in laughs, all in all, it ends up being the dramatic moments of the series that are/were memorable & more meaningful. Frankly, I don’t even find it to qualify as a “dark” or “black” comedy because although they slip in jokes during many scenes which take place in the operating room or as some horrific event or reality of war is also occuring, thru are rather often very simplistic or flat one-liners. Additionally, what makes me wonder this even more, is the unlikable persona of “Hawkeye” who reminds me more of a whiny pain in the ass than a merry jokester. I really, truly also try to give additional consideration to “time”, as often many people watching a “dated” show don’t see it as all that original or funny due to what has been on and what’s jokes have been allowed in more recent years, but remember my TV awareness not only goes back far earlier than this show’s production date and most frustratingly is that I tried (& failed) on several occaisions in my 20’s & 30’s to make it through the entirety of the series but quit due to my sheer boredom or my feeling of it”s lack of quality comedy (whether regarding the quality of the writing, the created character’s, their line delivery or their on-screen performance) or the curious choice of casted characters such as Father Francis Mulcahy, a major character, yet one that hardly seems to utter anything comedy throughtout the entirety of the series or Corporal Max Klinger, another major character, who seems at best a one-dimensional, one-time laugh that dies after two or three views, yet it’s ridden throughout the entirety of the series. Col. Potter, Col. Henry Black & Lt. Radar O’Reilly have amusing bits some of the time and while Trapper John was at least decent, once they lost him and put B. J. & Hawkeye together, it becomes almost like watching two unlikeable or borderline straight-up annoying characters as the leads surrounded by the likes of “Hot Lips” who is neither hot, nor funny with the exception of the first few years where she was able to play her masculine nature off of the excessive weeny-ness (word) of Frank Burns, of course that leaves once he does and Major Winchester does little to salvage the loss as just another one-dimensional stuffed-shiry stereotype. All in all, I finally have just been able to make it through the entire series in recent years (thanks to the antenna provided MeTv & some serious discipline of forcing myself to watch all of it, and I’ve now found as a comedy it’s still barely better than a uneventful yawn or at best an average 5/10, however as a drama I will crank the series rating up to a fairly solid 7/10 as there are many meaningful moments in it, but hardly any of the ones I take with me from it are/were comedic (like I’ll always remember Ralph Kramden’s “To the Moon” directed at Alice &/or Norton, Seinfeld’s witty & extremely well-written episode playing on the issue of being “gay” (“not that there’s anything wrong with it”) & entire comedy series about virtually nothing or “All in the Family’s” comedic handling of EVERY TOUGH SUBJECT or “Married..with Children’s ground-breaking 180 degree turn & first-ever spotlight on the dysfunctional family or even just the most simplistic, yet phenomenal physical slapstick of some like Lucy & Ethel with the chocalates (or in tribute Laverne & Shirley later with the bottle caps) at the factory from “I Love Lucy” or even just the tripping (& falling) of Jack Tripper from “There’s Comedy. In conclusion, MASH is (still to this very day) the only sit-com series that I can honestly say I just don’t get where the comedy is, and that’s despite even my being Jewish & yet still being able to find “Hogan’s Heroes” funny despite the Nazi P.O.W. camp theme & with Swastikas constantly on screen. So, please, can you (as someone full knowledgable & very appreciative of this series who has also called a great comedic show) explain for me where it is if that you find the humor in this sit-com? Thank you for your time & consideration & I hope to hear back from you.
      Best Regards,
      Jared Rapaport

      1. Jared,
        I’m not Bill, however, I am a big fan of the show and I have watched the entire series many times (never fails to bring a smile). I was close to 30 when it ended, but, didn’t watch any until just a few years ago (my life was way too busy for TV before).

        Considering your list of qualifications I’m surprised you haven’t realized:
        * It doesn’t fit in the world of traditional sitcoms.
        * How the humor offsets AND blends with the drama.
        * MANY different styles of humor are used throughout.
        * The bold choices involved with producing this classic series.
        A thirty minute show with drama, sadness, and humor (plus some hot topics) in the seventies was bold/challenging/daring.

        Sounds like you love sitcoms, skip M*A*S*H, it’s not for everybody, and especially not for someone who wants a traditional sitcom (M*A*S*H ‘broke’ that mold and is sooooooooo much more than a sitcom).

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